We’ve just finished the first media briefing in the Press Centre at ESOC.
We just finished today’s 15:00CET media briefing in the Press Centre at ESOC. The briefing was given by Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Sylvain Lodiot, Project Scientist Matt Taylor, all from ESA, and DLR’s Stephan Ulamec, project manager for Philae. Here is a summary:
- The Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander are in great shape
- The commands to control the Philae lander are already uploaded
- Today, the mission operations team at ESOC including the flight dynamics specialists are planning the spacecraft activities for tomorrow, and these will be translated into on-board commands and uploaded overnight
- The timing for the Wednesday morning burn (now set for 07:35-08:35CET) is known to only about 30 minutes right now (see the landing timeline)
- A final pre-delivery orbit determination will be done by teams tomorrow, and then we will know when final the pre-delivery burn will take place
- For the Orbiter & Lander mission teams, there are a series of GO/NOGO decision points between tomorrow night & separation on Wednesday, now set for 10:03CET
- The Lander will be switched on this evening and the control team will start warming it up and getting ready
- Matt Taylor explained:
— This week marks an ‘epoch in the mission’; once we’re past landing, we start full-on science; we’re all ‘GO’
— Answering a query on surface texture: We know a bit more than we did before. It’s a bit warmer than we initially thought; we’re analysing data from several instruments; it’s a more dusty surface material somewhere between hard-packed snow and cigarette ash; there are variations, but we’re seeing this across the planned landing site.
- When asked how we know we’ve landed, S. Ulamec explained: We see telemetry signals telling us we’ve touched the surface and that the harpoons have fired. He adds that it will take ‘several minutes’ to analyse the lander telemetry to confirm landing. One possible problem could be that Philae has landed, but that the harpoons have not anchored; that’s why we need to look carefully at the telemetry.
- When asked if we’ve seen any comet activity that may affect landing plans, S. Ulamec explained: If we see the comet break up, then we have a NOGO 🙂 Seriously, we’ve seen no new activity affecting plans for landing.
- The first science sequence lasts about 2.5 days (depending on battery life). If solar power recharges the batteries, we go into long-term surface science
In summary, everything is in great shape and we are counting down to an exciting and crucial delivery day.